XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Strategy Game - Developed by Firaxis

kazooka wrote:

Amusing things that the random number generator has done to me recently:

Nobody survives but Canadians

It's always the Canadians. I blame it on the single payer healthcare system.

A number set without weird clumping isn't truly random.

But in a game where you might fire, in total, maybe.... hmm, I guess maybe 3000 rounds through the course of the game, having multiple 10,000:1 events happen is extraordinarily unlikely. I could buy one, but it happens repeatedly.

edit to add: Plus, consider this: all shots are separate. If the game claims I have a 78% chance to hit, but I miss that shot six times in a row, then the smart money is on the claim that I did not, in fact, have a 78% chance to hit. It doesn't matter how many other times I've fired, it doesn't matter how many improbable shots I made, nothing. What matters is this sequence of six die rolls, all of which missed. The rest of the data does not matter, it's still 10,000 to 1 that a 78% shot would miss six times in a row. (and it was at LEAST six, it might have been more.)

Some shots just simply do not have the chance to hit that the game claims they do. I believe, if you take the time to verify this, you will see the same thing. Whether it's a bug, or whether it's intentional, it's there.

This is also true of crit percentages; medium-high crit chances (again, in the 50 to 80% range) don't seem to happen nearly as often as they should. Try savescumming for awhile: some shots are extraordinarily difficult to land or crit, for no discernible reason.

same edit, adding more here too: and that's part of why I think the game is inferior to its ancient predecessor. The RNG is much too important. It should matter, but it shouldn't be constant life or death. In the original, you could achieve accuracy through volume... it was pretty normal to be able to fire at a given alien 10 or even 15 times. You had more soldiers, sight ranges were better (during the day, anyway), and each soldier could fire several times. You could overcome chaos through tactical positioning and sheer number of attempts to hit.

In this version, when you have (at most) six soldiers, each of which can typically only shoot once per round (with some later-game exceptions), each shot matters a very great deal more than it did, and one bad roll, in either direction, can hose a mission. And I'm not real fond of that design choice.

Guaranteed damage is guaranteed.

FWIW, I played the original as well. I played and finished TFTD as well. I did not like the pacing of the game when you have something like 24 troops moving looking for one alien hiding in a very large multi-tier map.

I felt like the original game ran best with about 12 soldiers on tap. This constitutes only 3 or 4 fire teams. Each unit in EU is functionally one fire team, given how crappy reaction triggering was in the original game, so I'm pretty okay with a 4-6 unit size.

That said, EU's interface and design is so very much more user-friendly, so I could see up to a 10 unit size working assuming they futz around with inventory management to make it more efficient.

Malor wrote:

In this version, when you have (at most) six soldiers, each of which can typically only shoot once per round (with some later-game exceptions), each shot matters a very great deal more than it did, and one bad roll, in either direction, can hose a mission. And I'm not real fond of that design choice.

I agree with the design choice comment. But isn't your methodology flawed?

You're only going to reload if you miss a shot, regardless of percentage. You're also going to STOP reloading once you hit that shot. To be accurate, wouldn't you have to reload the same shot, over and over and over, until you had a sample size higher than 6 or 7 attempts?

I'm not a probability expert, but it seems like to truly estimate it, you need a large sample size, and to observe the trends over a long period of time. Which is why people get hosed when they're gambling and on "hot" or "cold" streaks, right?

With a dice game like Catan (I play it a lot, so my frustrations with randomness come from there a lot), there's a 17% chance to roll a 7. Who hasn't had a game where you roll a 7 not once, not twice, but three or four times in a row (or more)? Which is kind of the opposite effect of missing a 78% chance shot six times, isn't it? Because what's kind of happened, is if you really didn't want a 7, then you've missed the equivalent of an 83% chance shot that many times in a row.

LarryC wrote:

FWIW, I played the original as well. I played and finished TFTD as well. I did not like the pacing of the game when you have something like 24 troops moving looking for one alien hiding in a very large multi-tier map.

Hide and seek was my least favorite aspect. I am thankful when the new XCOM avoids it, and frustrated when it does not.

All this randomness talk got me reading about the save scumming again. Did anyone else realize they put a "cold streak" feature in for easy and normal difficulties? I never play those, so I didn't realize, but essentially if you miss three shots, it'll land the fourth (on easy), with a lessened effect on normal.

LarryC wrote:

I could see up to a 10 unit size working assuming they futz around with inventory management to make it more efficient.

Agreed. And the...

Spoiler:

Base defense mission

...is proof that it can totally work, without feeling overpowered, or overwhelmed in numbers by the aliens. The mission map felt just about the same size of other missions, if not smaller, so whatever reasons they had before for capping the soldier count at 6, I now see no reason why to keep said cap. By far my favorite mission, and I hope this feedback is everywhere, and that they take it into consideration when developing a 2nd XCOM, which we all hope they will.

kazooka wrote:

Amusing things that the random number generator has done to me recently:

All heavies and snipers. No exceptions.

Nobody survives but Canadians.

Entire starting roster is female.

Wait, this isn't how everyone plays every XCOM game?!

kexx wrote:

...is proof that it can totally work, without feeling overpowered, or overwhelmed in numbers by the aliens. The mission map felt just about the same size of other missions, if not smaller, so whatever reasons they had before for capping the soldier count at 6, I now see no reason why to keep said cap. By far my favorite mission, and I hope this feedback is everywhere, and that they take it into consideration when developing a 2nd XCOM, which we all hope they will.

Or, like I said a very long time ago in this thread, have multi-part missions and/or multi-map. This would mean that stamina and managing your squad's resources is very important - just like the current base defense mission.

This feature was in UFO:Aftermath and I really enjoyed it and I think it would really add something to combat the current late game trudge through samey missions in XCOM.

e.g.
Step 1 - Shoot down a battleship
Step 2 - Squad sent out to relieve the current owners of their property
Step 3 - Hunker down and defend the battleship you've just captured from an incoming wave of enemies that want to initiate the self destruct mechanisms (there's two or three panels that need activating maybe)

Or.

Step 1 - Find the scientist that's out in the woods and save him from being captured by aliens/exalt
Step 2 - Escort him to the extraction point (not a skyranger) and off-map to the communications facility where he can interpret and 'send' the data
Step 3 - :Map 2 start: Escort him to the terminal where he can spend a few turns analysing the data (defend the scientist and/or terminal from attack)
Step 4 - Defend the communications array for a couple of turns so it transmits the data or disrupts the alien/exalt communications or something similar.

It would help make it feel like XCOM is actually doing more things than just waiting around for stuff to appear on their radars in actually combating the threats they are currently facing...

I felt that EW was strongest when it introduced missions where the goal was anything other than "kill everything moving on the map." The turn limit on the Site Recon mission and its ultimate goal was fantastic, as is the emergent pro-aggressive incentive of Meld.

I'd like for a Council Mission with a personnel reward to feature a turn-limited goal of rescuing said prisoner from the clutches of the aliens.

Another way to play with the mechanics and mission structure is to join Council Requests and missions. For instance, Brazil might request Laser Rifles earlier on. If you are able to meet this request, some future missions maps in Brazil will feature surviving personnel with Laser Rifles that you can rescue and then command for that mission.

LarryC wrote:

I felt that EW was strongest when it introduced missions where the goal was anything other than "kill everything moving on the map." The turn limit on the Site Recon mission and its ultimate goal was fantastic, as is the emergent pro-aggressive incentive of Meld.

I'd like for a Council Mission with a personnel reward to feature a turn-limited goal of rescuing said prisoner from the clutches of the aliens.

Another way to play with the mechanics and mission structure is to join Council Requests and missions. For instance, Brazil might request Laser Rifles earlier on. If you are able to meet this request, some future missions maps in Brazil will feature surviving personnel with Laser Rifles that you can rescue and then command for that mission.

It has to be for balance issues, in regard to six soldiers. Taking on a downed UFO with four is much different than taking one on with six. Imagine 10 MECs stomping around. You could make the aliens spawn in larger numbers than groups of three, but then if you didn't have squad upgrades, you'd be screwed.

I agree on the most interesting missions being ones that weren't just kill everything. Although I'd settle for the NPCs in rescue missions just shutting up and not hassling you every turn. God damn, Van Doorn. God damn. I oughtta just leave you to the Thin Men.

@ Duoae

Cool idea. Reminds me a bit of Cydonia on original X-COM, where you first land on the surface and must find the access point. Part 2 starts with the soldiers that made it, and if they're wounded, they start wounded. Definitely could work.

@ccoates

I think they could program escalation pretty well. They already do when deciding which alien races you face depending on how you progress, they could do the same with size. In the mission I spoiler tagged, I killed 30 aliens. Alien bases and Battleships don't have those numbers, and I think they could without breaking the balance. Just a thought.

Regarding missions that aren't kill everything,

Yes! Those were fun. I loved the dam mission, and its narrative result. I know the point is to not have a traditional narrative in the sense other games do, but those little parts of the game were my favorite.

Is anyone else secretely hoping that Snakemen return? By all means, keep the thin men, I just miss my snakemen.

Yeah, the Thin Men are cool. I love how they move. They feel like they should have been in the original.

I presume they're a deliberate substitute for snakemen, since the game mentions that their eyes are reptilian. Maybe snakemen would be hard to animate, or maybe they didn't fit in the character scale they wanted to use.

Thin Men were cool, but needed a late game upgrade like Mutons and Sectoids got. I had a couple council missions toward the end of my last game and I used them as level-up my Psi-soliders and lower rank solider missions since they only had 3 HP and often would drop down into an area of overwatch-ed soldiers.

That's called "revenge".

Oh, for sure. I took great joy in one-shotting those bastards and would often prolong the missions as long as I could so that I could kill as many of them as possible.

But, I'm gonna call it here, we'll see an upgrade to the Thin Man in the next expansion.

I wish they would make a conversion that is Battle Star Galactica themed....

mwdowns wrote:

Thin Men were cool, but needed a late game upgrade like Mutons and Sectoids got. I had a couple council missions toward the end of my last game and I used them as level-up my Psi-soliders and lower rank solider missions since they only had 3 HP and often would drop down into an area of overwatch-ed soldiers.

Another thing they could have done is have low level aliens show up in later missions, but in larger quantities like two or three groups per "spawn". So you might end up facing 9 sectoids at once, which is still a turkey shoot. But then a Mechtoid shows up. And then a sectoid commander shows up and mass mind melds ALL of them.

Yes! I like that idea Tamren!

If only there was some way for us to communicate our ideas to Firaxis....

Tkyl, have tried convincing Jake Solomon to join GWJ?

kexx wrote:

Yes! I like that idea Tamren!

If only there was some way for us to communicate our ideas to Firaxis....

Tkyl, have tried convincing Jake Solomon to join GWJ?

Didn't Jake move on to something else at the end of XCOM? Isn't that why the other guys where the design leads (and PR) for Enemy Within?

Oh man, I did not see this coming. Sorta. Not one bit.

Spoiler:

XCOM HQ just got attacked by an invasion force. I was completely unprepared. My teams are usually devoid of equipment in order to keep the good stuff for the currently active squad that I'm trying to level up. Boy, was that a mistake. Trying to defend the Command Center with troops using base equipment resulted in a massacre.

First off, two Mechoids land with two Sectoids and a Commander. I dispatch them with minimal damage, but not before a Berserker (along with his fellow Chryssalid) rushes across half my team and knocks out two guys hiding behind cover with one melee attack. Poor recruits. Then two Cyberdisk and Drone teams appear, along with a couple of my own reinforcements. One rocket wipes out the drones and softens up a Cyberdisk. One round later both Cyberdisks are down. Silly me, I thought perhaps the worst is over. Yeah, no.

A couple Mutons and a Berserker drop into an adjacent room. Without any visuals I rush in a Lightning Reflex Support to take a looksie. Lucky me, all Mutons are on Overwatch and my poor Support Col. is killed immediately. Two rounds later half my team is below half health and one more recruit is killed.

Roughly 4 Chrysallids drop, which I am able to get rid of with proper use of Overwatch and a MEC who melees the stragglers into a pulp. Surely that's the end of this madness. But no, this is XCOM.

Another Cyberdisk team drops, two Sectoid Commanders and another Mechoid. All my forces are near 1-2 health (save the MEC) and I rage quit. I'm not only stunned by the turn of events, but also kinda impressed Firaxis designed this scenario.

I am vaguely aware of something like this happening in X-Com UFO Defense, but I have no recollection of it feeling nearly as rough as this. This may be the end for my Ironman run I'm afraid. And I was having such a good time too... Is there a reason why this scenario was triggered? I don't remember anything like this happening in Enemy Unknown.

This was actually close to the scenario that I wanted. Back when this would happen in UFO Defense, my troops would be all armored and armed with deadly weapons, as if they had the opportunity to run by the armory even though many of them are in the Barracks. In EW, I got a mix of equipped and unequipped troops. My Colonel MEC Sniper was fully kitted out since he had just been back from baby-sitting newbies in a mission. Another MEC was still in second tier Sentinel with a Rail Gun for similar reasons. The rest of the squad was kitted with basic conventional weapons, presumably because that's what they kept in their footlockers.

Yeah, not letting you equip your guys before the event is a bit of a dick move, especially for those who solely play ironman.

That's XCOM, baby! That's one of the features of that mission that I liked so much.

But they totally half assed it. If surprise is what this is all about they should have specifically designed the mission so that your soldiers have no equipment. It doesn't matter what they were equipped with before, everyone gets stock weapons and basic body armour. You then add back utility items like grenades and medkits using the NPCs, and counter the lack of equipment by just giving you more soldiers.

Despite having pretty much nothing I still managed to ace the first two waves with no losses, and that felt GOOD. If at that point I had gotten just two more soldiers I could have completed the rest of the mission. But it's clearly not designed for 4 soldiers with no gear, and getting stomped there just pissed me off because of how cheap the loss felt.

Hmm, when that mission popped for me on Normal:

Spoiler:

I think I started with three soldiers in full kit, and a bunch of noobs in standard stuff. And then it added three more strong soldiers over time. Sadly, my very best two were in the hospital, so they didn't show up, which was a bummer, but I did end up with all my actives in their active gear, just not all at once.

Oh, and:

I am vaguely aware of something like this happening in X-Com UFO Defense, but I have no recollection of it feeling nearly as rough as this.

Oh, those missions could be a bitch.

Spoiler:

For one thing, it could happen multiple times, and I believe you'd start out with all of your soldiers with no kit, and then all your inventory scattered all over the base. And the enemies would attack your actual base, exactly the way you'd designed it, so part of base design ended up being about bottlenecking the bastards so you'd have time to assemble and equip.

That's yet another example of how they kind of half-assed the sequel: the 'base attack' mission is generic, the same for every base, every time. I don't think the random low-level soldiers are even part of your second string; I lost two or three, but they didn't show up on the memorial list. And if you lose, the game is over, where if you lost the old base attacks, you lost the base.... not game over, but a terrible blow.

But, of course, for these base attacks to happen, you'd have to fail to spot the Scout that was looking for your base, or fail to shoot it down, yet another case of the underlying sim engine being superior in the old title.

That old game had a sense of realism to it that the new one just lacks; it was much more of a simulation, where this one is much more of a game, a highly scripted and guided experience. I'm glad I waited to spend $10 for the expansion, because that's about what it was worth to me.

Well, I did end up surviving, played very conservatively with the one MEC I had on hand and used grenades liberally on the last two waves. Within an hour I had recovered from most of the personnel loss incurred. I'm kind of glad nearly all my top soldiers were undergoing Gene Mods or Psi Eval, I would have hated to lose any of them.

Malor wrote:

That old game had a sense of realism to it that the new one just lacks; it was much more of a simulation, where this one is much more of a game, a highly scripted and guided experience. I'm glad I waited to spend $10 for the expansion, because that's about what it was worth to me.

I can concede to their need for a more commercially viable product, but you're right, I definitely miss the simulation nature of the original. That's what mods are for, right?

Enemy Unknown always felt a little under-baked in my opinion, but now with the EW I feel like I'm playing a complete build. It's far more fleshed out, no plateauing of tech thus far, haven't encountered any map repetitions yet, and the variety of scenarios are keeping things fresh, It's been a blast.

Is there any downside to pushing back the Exalt HQ attack? I've narrowed the selection down to three countries, all of which have already pulled out of funding so it doesn't really matter when I jump in and clean house. I thought that might've been the reason for the XCOM HQ attack, but apparently not.

I'm really, really enjoying my new EW playthrough. Went Ironman out of the gate and wouldn't play any other way now. I was a wimp. Ironman is the only way to play. After one event I was down to 3 soldiers; 2 of them rookies. We're now tooled up in Titan armour, gene-spliced and plasma armed and are kicking arse.

Simulation vs Game:

The old XCOM was a lot more of a mess is what it was. Without a strong narrative drive and focus, simulationism was the key way to make things fast and cheap, and it came at considerable expense to the gamer. UFO was famous for being brutal, but what it really was was unbalanced and random. The systems that could end up with a devastating base attack were the same systems that could be gamed to farm aliens for parts and money - like they were game animals. Whatever realism it had then simply went out the window when you're playing the game like an alien hunter selling alien body parts on the black market like rhino horn.

EU and EW deliver a more constrained environment, but that's the same environment that's crafted to deliver the same experience every time and head off minmaxers like me at the pass. It doesn't feel more real, but it does feel better crafted and much more thought-out.

In the original, there were several factors that affected base defense. Fortunately, you could manage your inventory loadout at the start of the battle. There were some bugs associated with this, such as the 80-item limit. Mostly though, I got through them with a combination of defensible base design and large numbers of proximity grenades. In the late-game, a gravity shield and a handful of fusion-ball defenses would stop most attackers from landing, with the minor drawback that you didn't get any salvage that way.

ccoates wrote:

I've definitely had nights with Settlers of Catan when it seems like everyone at the table was rolling 11s. Which is bizarrely unlikely, right?

I just assume that any given game of Catan is going to have a weird highly productive spot that isn't where the probability curve says it should be. I'm rarely disappointed.

In UFO Defense, the defenders and gear available is whatever you have just sitting around. Anything prepped for missions on a Skyranger is left out of the confrontation. So once you start to get flush with cash you really want every soldier to be fully equipped with at least low-end armor and laser rifles, even if they're just warming the bench. It sounds like Enemy Within works roughly the same way.

complexmath wrote:

In UFO Defense, the defenders and gear available is whatever you have just sitting around. Anything prepped for missions on a Skyranger is left out of the confrontation. So once you start to get flush with cash you really want every soldier to be fully equipped with at least low-end armor and laser rifles, even if they're just warming the bench. It sounds like Enemy Within works roughly the same way.

Thankfully in EW, EXALT will be providing you with plenty of laser weapons. There is no reason for your whole line-up not to be equipped with lasers for the base mission.